Eesti Laul 2017 – Our Editors review the first semi-final

The Estonian national broadcaster, ERR has released the 20 songs that have been shortlisted to compete to represent Estonia in Kyiv.  The 20 songs will be split into two semi-finals of the Eesti Laul with five songs from each semi qualifying for the final on 4th March 2017.

Estonia will certainly be looking to improve on their result from Stockholm, where Juri Pootsman failed to qualify for the final, finishing in last place in his semi-final.  Can Estonia return to the final in 2017?

Our Editors have now had the chance to listen to all of the songs and review them, and we can share our thoughts with you.  Our rankings will be shared over two updates, and today we will focus on the ten songs competing in the first semi-final. You can listen to all of the songs in this year’s Essti Laul on ERR’s website here (click)

We will start our run-down with the 5 songs that came 6th-10th with our Editors – the songs we would not put through to the final… and here they are:

10th: Janno Reim & Kosmos – Valan Pisaraid (10 points)

Andy: I honestly thought I was listening to an 80’s song at the start – very U2 indeed. It all sounds a bit weird and everything seems drowned out and wishy-washy with too much going on (2/10)

Anne: Indie rock is something that Estonia does really well and this is another good example of it. Translating the feel of this song to a live performance is going to be tough, but interesting to watch (6/10)

Danny: Indie music is really not my thing at all.  The vocals for this are far too distorted, it just sounds like white noise and is there even a chorus in there? The longest six minutes of my life (0/10)

Joe: I’m sure they enjoy what they do, and I am sure there is a niche market somewhere for people that like to listen to whatever it is that they do.  But I shan’t be joining them.  There is no melody at all behind this.  Awful.  (1/10)

Ervin: And we are back in the 80s… it sounds way too messy (1/10)

9th: Ivo Linna – ‘Suur Loterii’ (21 points)

Andy: This is quite minimalistic, and there’s just a piano and drums to start with, so this may lose interest. It’s much better when fully kicks in and it sounds nice in Estonian. (6/10)

Anne: There’s something a little bit lovely about the Estonian language, this apparently translates to “Big Lottery”. The chorus sounds familiar but I can’t put my finger on it. It’s all a bit retro, but looking at Ivo – so is he (5/10)

Danny: Well it’s nice that he got in the line-up and I have heard worse, but let’s face it, it’s not got a chance in hell, has it?, I was bored half-way through.  (4/10)

Joe: Estonia have a good record when they have selected songs performed in Estonian, and it really is a beautiful language.  This is quite enjoyable, but unlike those other entries in Estonian, this may not get wide enough appeal to do very well if they were to send this to Kyiv.  (5/10)

Ervin: This just sounds way too dated, and the same notes all the time is a little bit irritating.  No particular melody in this song either, so a definite no-go for me.  (1/10)

8th: Laura Prits – ‘Hey Kiddo’ (23 points)

Andy: The lyrics just annoyed me, and the music sounds like it’s being played from a Walkman with flat batteries. Even if it was double the speed, it’d still feel too slow. Didn’t like it at all. Sorry. (3/10)

Anne: There’s always a kooky one, and from seeing Laura’s press photo, it’s her in semi 1. Very simplistic song and lyrics, rhyming “Hey Kiddo” with “I’ll never get riddo (f you)” irritates me a bit! It’ll be interesting to see on stage though.  (4/10)

Danny: Well this is different, and I love the use of the much underused use of the word ‘bonkers’.  Again, I can’t see many people voting for this, sadly, but I do love the quirkiness of the song.  (8/10)

Joe: Hmmm, really don’t know what to make of this.  It’s quirky, but in such a deliberate way that it makes me want to refuse to play along.  No… sorry Laura, this really isn’t for me.  (3/10)

Ervin: For some reason, the early songs from Avril Lavigne’s career come to mind with this.  I’m a bit indifferent to it though.  (5/10)

7th: Karl-Kristjan & Whogaux Feat. Maian – ‘Have You Now’ (24 points)

Andy: This has a really strong start, but Karl-Kristjan’s voice seems much stronger than hers. There’s a nice production with a mixture of musical styles and instrumentation (5/10)

Anne: I can’t explain why this song annoys me, maybe it’s the girls voice, maybe it’s the plinky plonky instrumental bits. I do find myself drifting a bit when it’s on (4/10)

Danny: I can see what they are trying to do here, but I just think it all sounds a little bit disjointed and the chorus is rather irritating.  I was kinda glad for it to end (4/10)

Joe: This is all over the place and it doesn’t come across as a coherent song.  It’s alright and not in any way unpleasant, but it fails to leave me with much of an impression.  (4/10)

Ervin: This is extremely radio friendly (or at least it would be here in Hungary), It’s simple enough, but at the same time well arranged.  I’m just worried about how they would stage this.  (7/10)

6th (and just missing out…): Leemet Onno: ‘Hurricane’ (31 points)

Andy: This is very contemporary and chart-sounding with a touch of country. It’s not my kind of thing at all, but might be quite popular with some (5/10)

Anne: The two genres of music that I really don’t like are country and western, and this has a bit of both, yet I still find it really enjoyable! Nice foot stomping beat and I will be very disappointed if he doesn’t wear a stetson on February 11th (8/10)

Danny: Well this is all very pleasant, and catchy but it’s a little bit safe and sounds like something that would come eighth in the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, but it’s not the worst. (5/10)

Joe:  This is catchy and I can see this having fairly strong appeal, but I can’t really seem to get myself too excited about it.  There are better songs in this semi-final though. (5/10)

Ervin: This sounds fun.  It’s quite memorable, it’s easy to sing along to, so I’m really hoping that this will come across well when performed live (8/10)

So… If it was down to us to determine who should qualify (which of course it isn’t, it’s a 50/50 split of jury and televote), then the following 5 songs would be progressing to the final.

5th: Carl-Philip – ‘Everything But You’ (32 points)

Andy: Sounds like an old Robbie Williams song to begin with. Good production all round, and there’s a nice hook in the chorus (8/10)

Anne: Carl-Philip is a very competent vocalist and he’s singing a very competent song. It’s not exciting in any way but makes for an enjoyable 3 minutes. (6/10)

Danny: This reminds me of ‘Years and Years’.  Decent enough but the vocals sound as though they have been tuned a little too much, so I’m not sure about his live performance skills.  (6/10)

Joe: This has a real Nordic pop feel about it, a really cheerful pop song with a memorable chorus.  I can see this doing rather well (7/10)

Ervin: A decent song, that doesn’t really go anywhere.  Perfectly nice to listen to, but might as well just be left playing in the background (5/10)

4th: Uku Suviste – ‘Supernatural’ (34 points)

Andy: It’s a slow build into a good uptempo dance song, with both a contemporary and 90’s sound to it. Uku has some pronunciation issues to work on, though. “Woodoo” stood right out for me (7/10)

Anne: Good pop song and again, another great production on the backing track. Doesn’t quite reach the level I would want it to and it gets a tad repetitive. Looks like he’s going to be easy to watch from the press photo though! Yeah, I’m THAT shallow … (7/10)

Danny: Another very modern entry and I could see this being a big radio hit, but it’s a bit style over substance when it all comes down to it. (6/10)

Joe: Yeah, this is ok, but there are so many songs in this semi that are simply just better.  ‘Woodoo’ made me giggle though so not a wasted 3 minutes by any means.  (5/10)

Ervin: Even though this song sounds a bit dated, it has a great rhythm and it’s super-catchy.  I really enjoy it and would listen to this any time (9/10)

2nd(=): Elina Born – ‘In Or Out?’ (39 points)

Andy: Elina’s vocals really sound like Zara Larsson in this. It’s upbeat and catchy with a sing-a-long feel to it, and sounds very radio friendly. This should do well. (8/10)

Anne:  I always worry about artists making a return! Although this is also written by Stig Rasta, it’s a very different effort to “Goodbye To Yesterday” and there’s no need for any spontaneous tears at the end. Good song (8/10)

Danny: Catchy, up-tempto and lots of fingerclicking – what’s not to love? Very now sounding and is definitely up there with the frontrunners. (8/10)

Joe:  Great to see Elina Born trying again for Estonia, and this is a great song to return with.  It’s a very catchy pop-song with a great chorus which I expect will get universal appeal.   I suspect I will be listening to this a few more times this evening…. (8/10)

Ervin: This is fun – the music is really great, the song has a nice melody and it suits Elina’s voice very well.  However, I struggle with the lyrics.  Not really catchy enough and I’m not sure they make sense.  Other than that, very enjoyable (7/10)

2nd (=): Ariadne – ‘Feel Me Now’ (39 points)

Andy: This is really electro-pop sounding with a touch of the 90’s Ace of Base sound for good measure. Ariadne’s vocals are very haunting, and I really liked this one (9/10)

Anne: Eesti Laul songs always have an air of quality about them (with the odd exception!). Ariadne has some good vocals on her, but the song doesn’t seem to go anywhere, it very much stays on the one level. It’s a good level, but I was expecting a little bit more (7/10)

Danny: Female electropop is my bag, and I really like this a lot, but it’s a bit understated and is probably not instant enough to do well at Eurovision (9/10)

Joe: This is truly wonderful, I can (and already have done) listen to this on a loop for hours on end.  It’s a beautifully understated piece of electropop, and I am smiling every time I listen to the lyrics and mis-hear the line ‘We’ll hoover the sky’, thankfully there is a lyric video to reassure me that she’s not waving a vacuum cleaner in the air, but that could be an interesting staging option.  Utterly, utterly magnificent.  (10/10)

Ervin: A way too simple song if you ask me.  I don’t mind it at all, but it’s nothing special.  It’s good to have it on in the background whilst you are doing something else.  (4/10)

And that brings us to ESCBubble’s winner of the first semi-final:

Song 1: Lenna Kuurmaa – ‘Slingshot’ (40 points)

Andy: Lenna has a sweet voice, but the lyrics seem incredibly cheesy and repetitive. The production also seems to be all over the place and I hate the horn section (5/10)

Anne: Love this! From the mystical start and Lenna’s beautiful vocals right through to the fantastic production this screams out to be performed with plenty of dry ice and blue lighting… my favourite (9/10)

Danny: This is a really nice radio-friendly song which reminds me of something Sia would sing.  I think she has a good chance of winning: (9/10)

Joe:  I like this, she clearly has a great voice, but I rather suspect the strong isn’t quite strong enough to get too excited about.  With some inventive staging this could do well, but it needs a little something extra.  (8/10)

Ervin: I enjoy Lenna’s voice a lot, and this is something I personally like to listen to.  It’s very nice and relaxing (9/10)

So, do you agree with our list?, You can listen to our favourite here (click)

we’ll be back next week with our review of Semi 2, and an overall run-down of who we think would be the best choice for Estonia to send to Kyiv!

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